A few weeks ago, your humble HK Tarter manage to score an invitation to the most anticipated collection exhibit this year – the 2010 Patek Philippe Basel releases.
The event was hosted by the Hour Glass Hong Kong and held at a pretty nice hotel. The first reader to guess the venue gets a minute repeater*.
Dinner was a rather odd affair, as the menu comprised of French and Chinese styles served not as some type of fusion cuisine, but as separate dishes.
First entrée: lightly grilled bay scallops with truffle vinaigrette and Jerusalem artichoke chips
This entrée was an interesting dish, with the freshness of the scallops mingling well with the firm but not intrusive presence of truffles. The scallops were so lightly grilled they could have easily been mistaken for sashimi-style. Not that it mattered, as they were rather sweet. The inclusion of the artichoke chips helped add contrasting layers of texture, but I found them a bit unnecessary.
My humble contribution to the evening: Patek Philippe Gondolo Ref. 5124.
This was probably the least expensive Patek Philippe time piece in the room.
Second entrée: double-boiled deer tendon soup with longan and black mushroom
With this dish, the meal took a left turn at Weird Street and headed in a southerly direction to What-the-heck-am-I-eating!
So let us dissect the specifics.
Double-boiling: a technique used in Chinese (usually Cantonese) cuisine, is similar to a bain-marie. Deer: Bambi’s mother. Tendon: fibrous connective tissue that connects muscle to bone. Longan: Cantonese for “dragon eyes”. This is the fruit of a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. Black mushroom: the fancy English name for shiitake mushroom.
The broth was phenomenal! It was a golden brown but clear bouillon with not a hint of fat. It had a subtle meat flavour and was very clean on the palette. The mushrooms were plump with liquid and literally burst on the bite.
Before I discuss the tendon, let me first start by saying that I love tendon, especially the beef tendon that is readily available at beef noodle stores all over Hong Kong. Tendon has to be simmered for eternity and the resulting gelatinous mass is packed full of flavour. Beef tendon has a strong meaty finish. I had expected the deer tendon to have a strong taste of game, but to my surprise it had a very subdued meat flavour. The tendon was a little too under cooked for my liking as it was still very firm to the bite, al dente, if you will.
Overall, a great dish, but an odd choice to follow the first entrée.
Dining companion to the left: Patek Philippe chronograph Ref. 130
Let us pause here and drool for a moment.
We decided to crack the case back open to admire the wonderful finish. Let us return to drooling (of watches, that is).
Third entrée: Braised grouper rolls with asparagus and Yunnan ham.
Ah! Grouper and Yunnan ham – the surf ‘n turf of Cantonese cuisine. This was served with a braised skinless tomato and a lotus root chip. Again, the flavours were rather subtle with the saltiness of the Yunnan ham binding the grouper and asparagus together.
If you are counting, it has been one French and two Cantonese dishes so far. Very odd!
Dining companion to the right: Patek Philippe Chronograph Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5970. Some Tarts would weep if I shared the price paid for this piece – it was a fraction of what it is now exchanging for in watch auctions around the world.
Main: Poached free-range chicken breast with baby vegetables in a truffle bouillon.
So we are back to the French theme. This was a good example of a simple French dish done well. By this stage, I was using chopsticks to eat the pieces of chicken.
To conclude this rather eclectic menu of French and Cantonese, I just wanted to note that the meal had a theme of clean flavours and exhibited a rather healthy approach to cooking – light grilling, braising, double-boiling and poaching. While each dish stood very much alone, the flavours did not carry on to the next dish, which made each dish a very unique experience in itself. A bold choice to say the least but surprisingly well executed.
Why don’t we skip dessert, which was chocolate cannelloni with cherry compote and vanilla ice cream, and get to the reason why we are really here – the watches!
A school of Nautili, from left to right: Ref. 5726A, Ref. 5980, Ref.5712, Ref. 5980/1A.
Ref. 5726A annual calendar in steel. This has superseded the 5980/1A blue dial as my favourite Nautilus.
Ref. 5712 in rose gold and platinum.
Ref. 5980 in rose gold.
Ref. 5170 in yellow gold. This piece houses the new in-house chronograph caliber.
Perhaps a little too big for my liking.
But, of course, a movement to die for.
Something for the ladies but unfortunately, I find it rather “meh!”
A quick break from watches. Notice the new Patek Philippe seal.
Ref. 5396 in rose gold. Clean and simple.
Ref. 5960 in platinum with the new deep blue dial.
Ref. 5960 in rose gold with a stunning grey dial. Unfortunately, this piece must be seen in real life, as it is infinitely more attractive.
Let us pause and drool again.
Ref. 5159 Perpetual Calendar in rose gold. I love the retrograde date.
And the hunter case back.
Ref. 5140 in rose gold.
Ref. 5205 in white gold with a dark grey dial.
Of the collection, my top three include the Nautilus 5926A Annual Calendar steel, the 5960 in rose gold and the 5205 Annual Calendar in white gold. Time to start saving I suppose…
So, to conclude, anyone care to guess the venue?
*Consult Gaz's Dictionary of Horology.